The United Nations on Tuesday called for an independent investigation into the deaths of at least 23 people after around 2,000 migrants attempted to cross from Morocco to Spain last week.
The UN human rights office has expressed concern over the deaths and dozens injured after migrants attempted to storm the heavily fortified border between Morocco’s Nador region and the enclave on Friday. Spanish from Melilla.
“We call on both countries to ensure that an effective and independent investigation is carried out as a first step towards establishing the circumstances of the deaths and injuries,” office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters at Geneva.
She stressed the need to determine “all possible responsibilities” and urged both countries to ensure accountability, if any.
At least 23 migrants died and 76 others were injured, according to the rights office. Moroccan authorities said 140 police officers were also injured in the ensuing violence.
“This is the highest number of deaths recorded in a single incident in many years of migrants attempting to cross from Morocco to Europe via the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta,” Shamdasani said.
Although it is still unclear how the deaths occurred, she said the human rights office had received reports of “migrants beaten with batons, kicked, shoved and attacked with stones by Moroccan officials as they tried to scale the barbed wire fence, about six to 10 meters high, separating Morocco from Melilla.
“We call on Morocco and Spain to guarantee respect for the human rights of migrants at their common border and, in particular, that their border officials refrain from any excessive use of force against migrants,” he said. she declared.
Shamdasani also called on the two countries to “take all necessary measures alongside the European Union, the African Union and other relevant international and regional actors to ensure the establishment of border governance measures based on human rights”.
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“These include access to safe migration pathways, access to individualized assessments, and protection against collective expulsion and refoulement, as well as against arbitrary arrest and detention.”
The rush for migrants in Melilla came after Madrid and Rabat normalized diplomatic relations following a nearly year-long crisis centered on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
For Spain, the main objective of the diplomatic thaw was to ensure Morocco’s cooperation in controlling illegal immigration.
Melilla and Ceuta are the only land borders that the European Union shares with Africa.